Foto Find: Darren Bradley Photography

We’ve discovered over the years that Palm Springs Modernism Week is hot destination for amateur and professional photographers alike.  A few minutes surfing Google or Flickr brings up stunning images of Modernism Week events, places, and people; all seen through the lens of different individual artists with their own perspective, spin, and style.  To celebrate this stunning visual diversity, we’re instituting a weekly Foto Find.  Each week we’ll share with you a selection of work by one of our latest and greatest photographic finds and a chance to learn a bit more about the artist behind the lens.

Our first-ever Foto Find is San Diego-based photographer Darren Bradley (the dapper gent in the chair).  A self described francophile, design nut, and accidental tourist, Darren and his wife have been coming to Palm Springs Modernism for several years.


MW: When did you come to Palm Springs Modernism Week?  Or how many times have you been?
DB: My wife and I have been coming to Palm Springs since before Modernism Week existed, I think. We first rented a house here in 1999 – an Alexander in Las Palmas designed by William Krisel. That was our first taste and we loved it. I live in San Diego, so Palm Springs is an easy trip for me and I come up several times a year, at least. I remember when Modernism Week was more of a weekend, and just really a show. It’s amazing how it’s grown. We’ve missed a year here or there, but we’ve been to most since it started.
MW: What’s your favorite aspect of Palm Springs Modernism Week?
DB: Love the house tours the most and the generosity of home owners to open up their homes like that. It’s just amazing. Also, we’ve developed a lot of good friendships over the years of people that we see during the show and it’s become a bit of a reunion for us. Also a great opportunity to make new friends and meet lots of interesting people.
MW: What do you like to shoot and why?
DB: I love modern architecture, first and foremost. I learned photography in high school and college, working for my school newspaper and as a darkroom assistant (back in the film days!). But I’d pretty much abandoned photography and hadn’t picked up a camera in over ten years when I started documenting all these mid-century modern treasures that I was seeing. I originally wanted to just document them before they disappeared. But slowly, I started to want to take better photos because I wanted to get people to appreciate these treasures – to see in them what I loved. I hoped that way, more people would want to save them. So I’ve become a sort of guerilla architectural photographer… shooting projects quickly and candidly on the run. I envy professionals who get complete access to buildings, are able to light them properly, scout them out ahead of time, shoot at the ideal time of day, not get chased by security guards, etc…  Most of the time, I don’t have those luxuries. But I try to make the most of whatever situation I’m faced with to get a good shot and show the personality of the building – what makes it so unique and special.  In Palm Springs, there’s just so much to photograph. And what’s nice here is that most people are very generous on the house tours about allowing photography. It’s just something that I do for fun, of course. Taking photos of these beautiful places allows me to see them differently than if I didn’t have my camera with me.
MW: What does modernism mean to you? 
DB: Modernism conveys a sense of optimism about society and the world that is so lacking today. It’s the last truly original style before the mainstream of America just sort of retrenched into a kind of ersatz pseudo-historical style… Now, most tract homes are faux Tuscan or Colonial. It seems like we’ve lost not only our sense of optimism, but also our sense of imagination. Modernism, to me, represents that last time in our history when the majority of our society was willing to take risks and just relax and have fun. What I love most about modernist architecture is the glass walls… the openness… the use of outdoor spaces.

Here are just a few of his favorite shots.  Enjoy!

Follow him on Twitter @ChimayBleueSD or check out his Flickr stream.

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